You know it’s a dive when: A toilet paper sign in the women’s bathroom provides suggestions for reaching maximum flush capacity. Maximum occupancy is 49. There are bars on the windows. You watch the bartender fill a 16-ounce pint glass with ice and vodka and charge $3.75 for it.
Relics of a dive bar: East 25th Street Pub is inside a house that was converted to a bar more than 50 years ago. The fact that the bar sits in the middle of a quiet neighborhood makes it feel out of place, but it’s likely those same neighbors have helped keep it in business for so long. New owners Lynn and Chuck Wells took possession of the bar on Jan. 10. Chuck Wells first stepped foot in the bar in the late ’60s when it was John’s (just John’s apparently, with no added “bar” or “pub” or anything else). When we asked him what’s changed about the place since then, he swiftly replied, “nothing.” We believe it, as the East 25th Street Pub has the kind of character that only comes with years of work.
What we ordered: Bud Light bottles, and were given the option of 12 or 22 ounces. We opted for the latter, a steal at $3.75 each. A regular tipped us off about the pub having a sausage sandwich worth writing about, so we ordered one at $6.50. The price seemed a bit expensive for a small griddle in a transformed living room, but when the tenderloin-sized patty of Graziano’s sausage on a quarter loaf of an Italian bread was delivered with a to-go box, we understood. The sandwich is stacked with sweet peppers, onions, cheese and marinara, and worth every dollar. The bar goes through more than 60 pounds of sausage each week because of this popular meal.
Local flavor: There’s not much to this east-side dive. It’s small in stature, with only four tables, a pool table and the bar. A handful of televisions are tuned to sports with the sound muted. A jukebox sits in the corner. On the Saturday night we stopped in, the handful of patrons (who all seem to be regulars) didn’t mind the hum of the griddle’s exhaust fan enough to bother requesting tunes.
Best deals: Happy hour runs from 4 to 6 p.m., and specials include $2.50 wells, $7 pitchers, $1.50 12-ounce bottles and cans, $3.50 22-ounce beer bottles, and $4 mini pitchers. Also, the new owners are starting a ticket redemption menu, which includes $2 wells with two tickets or a $4 cheeseburger with five tickets.
You’ll be back for: The kind of outlandish pour (vodka and ice, for example) that can only be found in a neighborhood dive.
East 25th Street Pub
East 25th Street Pub
Find it: 509 E. 25th St.
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
Your dive bar challenge: Order, and finish, the sausage sandwich. Bonus points for doing it without having to wash it down with a bottle of Pepto.